Usually we do the interviewing, but this week it was Friedel’s turn to answer questions from Carlos, who runs a Spanish sustainable tourism website. Read the interview in Spanish
Carlos: Why did you start TravellingTwo.com?
Friedel: TravellingTwo started in 2006, when my husband Andrew & I decided to ride our bicycles around the world. We weren’t athletes. We weren’t cyclists. We just wanted a different way to travel at a slower pace. Because we didn’t know anything about bike touring when we started, we really appreciated all the information that other people shared on their websites. That’s when we decided to also make our website a helpful resource for others planning bike tours.
Carlos: What do you think of the the bike as a touring transport along the years? how has it evolved with time?
Friedel: The bikes and gear that bicycle tourists use are always changing, of course: lighter, more durable, more efficient. At its heart, however, I think bike touring is really about the same thing that it was 100 years ago; a chance to discover the world in a different way, to be in touch with the landscapes and people of the areas you visit, rather than just speeding through on a train or a bus.
Carlos: Do you think most people have a misrepresented image of travelling by bike? In that case, what are the myths to be destroyed?
Friedel: Most people we meet are very curious and envious about travelling by bike. They almost all say something like “I’d love to do that, if only I were 20 years younger” or “That looks like fun, but I can’t even pedal to the supermarket”.
This idea that bicycle touring is difficult must be the biggest myth. You don’t need a lot of special gear (we have met people crossing continents on terrible bikes) and you don’t have to be a super-athlete to do this. Anyone can go bike touring, especially because you always set your own pace. It’s not a race or a marathon. We have met bike tourists who go just 30-40km a day, and other people who travel over 100km in the same day. The distance isn’t the issue, it’s the attitude that counts.
Carlos: What are the most important pros and cons of travelling by bike for you?
Friedel: For me, the best thing about bike touring is the contact you have with people. Because you are travelling a bit differently, they stop to talk to you, invite you home for the night or show you around their town. It’s a great way to make new friends, all over the world. Also, I love how alive it makes me feel. That sensation of being on the bike, in the fresh air, with your legs propelling you forward through beautiful landscapes – it’s the most invigorating thing I have ever done.
The cons? Well, of course nothing is perfect. On a bike you are very exposed to the elements and you can’t cover distance as quickly as in a car, so sometimes you get caught in a rainstorm, or you don’t find a place to sleep and have to go a bit further. But you soon get very good at preparing for and anticipating these challenges. With a bit of planning and experience, you can either deal with them or avoid them altogether.
Carlos: What do you think are the biggest barriers to bike travel?
Friedel: The biggest barrier is in your own mind. Once you make a decision to go, then you can easily deal with any other challenges, but that first pedal stroke is the hardest. It’s very easy to find excuses or delay your trip. People worry about not having enough money, not being fit enough, not finding a job when they get back from a long trip. But, but, but… Just get out the front door and then who knows what adventures await you. Go live your dreams!
4th November 2010 at 3:31 pm #
Great answers Friedel! Very succinct, and 100% on point. Tara and I haven’t thanked you guys recently for the inspiration you provided us (how has it been two years already?), so thanks again, and please keep doing what you’re doing!
T & T
5th November 2010 at 2:06 pm #
Tara and Tyler are right – a well done interview where you define what bicycle touring is all about!
As for the “Do you think most people have a misrepresented image of travelling by bike? In that case, what are the myths to be destroyed?” I think the biggest myth that people believe is that bicycle touring is more tiring than travelling by bus. You only have to look at backpacker’s tired faces as they step out of long distance busses to know that it’s not true. A couple of times we have taken some long distance busses. After 8 hours in an overcrowded, overheated bus wherein the chauffer thought he was a formula 1 chauffeur as he drove too fast around every blind corner plus managed to dive into every road pothole – we felt sick and tired and were longing to get back on our bikes.